1989: The most famous occupants of Ockenden Manor



You couldn't accuse Timothy Burrell of breaking any social contract when it came to employing William Gates as a footman at Ockenden Manor, Cuckfield, back in the 1600s.


His records reveal with stark financial clarity that he handed over 50 shillings as his yearly wages and the more princely sum of £4 to his coachman to maintain a discrete differential. They were both doubtless grateful. But then living in the splendour of Ockenden Manor must have had other compensations.


The Burrells are one of the oldest of Sussex families. The Cuckfield burial register report study in September 1608 the Manor was burnt and then bought by a William Burrell from the Michel family.


Ockenden Manor c1910 (photograph courtesy of Cuckfield Museum)

So started an occupancy that lasted for centuries, with the house being rebuilt by William, and his wife Francis proudly placing their initials up front on the finished product.


The family, who traced their links back to Radulphus Burrell of circa 1270, went on to become leading iron masters of the county and vicars of Cuckfield too. The Reverend Gerald Burrell held that position in 1483 and was the Archdeacon of Chichester Cathedral.


Returns of the hearth tax of 1665 show four Burrell families living at Cuckfield – and 14 hearths at Ockenden.


But it is the diarist and barrister Timothy Burrell who catches inflation reeling imaginations. He lived from 1683 to 1714 and these are just some of his expenses he notched up at the Manor.

  • 14 shillings spent on a day out at Lewes.

  • A total of £22 and17 shillings spent on a day out at London.

  • 5 quarts of brandy five shillings

  • For the keep of two calves – 6d a week.

  • Six bushels of wheat at 17 shillings 4d

  • A gift to the poor £1 and 5 shillings.

  • Claret at 1 shilling 6d

  • John Holford got £3 for two years wages and £2 for excusing his livery that year!